She is 15 years old and now completely blind, my one remaining pussycat. I have lost Bijou, Mojo, Tango and Pinky. How often can a heart be broken and still function?
I noticed yesterday that Loaner’s paw pads are swollen and pink and remembered that she has left a claw or two on the floor. I am alarmed and have wondered if her tuna treat has caused this condition. I wish I hadn’t started giving it to her.
Otherwise, she seems to be all right, eating and the same in other ways.
But, a visit to the vet is in order.
One warm afternoon in November I came into the house after pulling weeds for an hour. A big tabby jumped down from the living room sofa and ran to me meowing. Surprised, I bent down to stroke it and was met with a fierce show of affection. She – most probably a she – rubbed against my hand, all the while meowing in a sweet, high voice.
She wound herself between my ankles, following me out to the patio, jumping up on the railing to rub against me, and purred and meowed without end. I didn’t know what to do with her and retreated to my husband’s den and lay down on the couch to read. The cat jumped up on my chest, at least twenty pounds of her. She rubbed against my face, my hand holding the book, my neck, my chin. I stroked and scratched. She kept up the attack. I thought Help! but really was enjoying myself.
After what seemed an hour, I put her outside and shut the door and fled back to the couch to think about what had happened. We had seen each other once or twice in my yard, nothing more.
She came almost every day after that, since the weather allowed me to leave the patio door open. I bought cat treats, which further cemented our relationship.
And that is how my tabby came to be.
She has no idea what will befall her tomorrow. I will have to stuff her in the carrier and haul it, her litter box, and a carton of new litter to Lake Park, my new home. Her new home too, two rooms from a four-bedroom house. The bathroom is too tight to place the litter box there; there is a balcony, but I would have to keep the door ajar day and night.
It all feels so strange, as it is wont to be after 36 years in this house. I think at least 30 boxes were taken away to be discarded or donated. The doers of this deed is an outfit dedicated to senior relocations and by golly I couldn’t have done it without them.
Now that he is joining Loaner and me on the bed, which he had avoided before, he heads straight for my neck and settles down there. This somewhat constrains my movements because Loaner is at my left hip as well. Still, the effect of so much family closeness sends me straight to dreamland.
But there is one other matter to contend with. Bijou will reach up now and then and bite me on the chin or cheek or nose. Are they love bites? Those of my readers who know kittens, what do you think? In the morning I give myself a fright at the mirror at seeing blood tracks on my face. I don’t know what else to do to discourage him except by tapping him on the nose and saying BIJOU! sharply.
He gets pretty wild scampering up and down the bed until Loaner, at the end of her patience, goes WAAH! whacks him and manages to do what I can’t. It is Mojo all over again. That boy would go berserkers then suddenly cuddle, eyes closed, with melting sweetness. When he was really little he kneaded my shoulder, uttering meows of contentment. People try to lessen the sorrow of losing him by telling me he might be living with someone else. Compared to the image of him being mauled by a predator, I can almost hope that is the case, even if I don’t care for him wanting to be with anyone else. Complicated, isn’t it?
Photo: Bijou is behind the rose bush
He weighs all of about two lbs. now and has overcome a couple of the conditions that bothered him. The bruised leg is well, and so are his eyes. But — there is always a but in life — his tests read positive for ringworm, which I am told is highly contagious. For almost a week now I have been washing his little head and ears and shoulders, drying them, then applying Lamisil anti-fungal cream. It is not much of a struggle to hold him in place while doing all this, and he will let out a cry of protest now and then. Unfair, as usual. To supplement this, he starts taking pills today.
I yearn to cuddle him and he yearns for me as well. His favorite place is on the back of my neck under my hair. Before the skin business became known he would stay there while I sat at this screen. It is as well Loaner has not yet taken to licking him, perhaps because he doesn’t smell right, plastered with Lamisil as he is these days.
My hands are washed so much they feel like wallboard; if the ringworm wanted to move onto me the mere washing of hands will be insufficient. And then there is Loaner….
Bijou’s fixation on water continues. He naps against the water dish and drinks frequently. I have made a pad for him in the bathroom where he spends many of the night hours. Either there, or on my shoes or slippers. I could weep when I see him playing with Mojo’s toys, and yesterday he surprised me by crunching down on the yarn ball I had tied to string at the end of a dowel, and pelting off with it to his stash in the bedroom. Attached to the other end, I went with him.
When he is all well, I will cuddle him as he has never been before. That’s a promise.
Bijou is slowly changing from a being sick kitten to a friskier one but is still not at his kitten best. The antibiotics are helping his gum condition, his sore leg is all better, and the conjunctivitis is improving. His path to cuddling involves climbing up to my shoulder, where he settles on the back of my neck under my hair.
The little guy insists on sitting close to the water dish and cries to get into the bathtub which holds water I recycle. Obviously he smells water and wants to be near. So he has emotional scarring as well; those scorching days he spent alone and lost, with no water to drink, before Jenni found him, have left their mark.
My adult cat Loaner is coming around, letting him snuggle for 30 seconds before getting up and moving away. I predict total acceptance will occur in two weeks. The photo of the two together will stand for all time….
Since Jenni cannot find his family in the vicinity of her home I conjecture he was dumped. I wonder if there is an especially hot place in hell for that sort of subhuman?